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Brands must stay ahead of changing consumer data privacy attitudes to make digital marketing pay

18 Jun 2012 10:07 BST Back
Brands must stay ahead of changing consumer data privacy attitudes to make digital marketing pay
DMA News

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For businesses to succeed in a digital economy where data is currency they need to build trust to encourage consumers to share their personal information, new report concludes

New research into consumer attitudes towards data privacy has revealed that one in three people now regard their personal information as a tradable commodity and that trust in a brand is the main factor in determining whether or not a person is prepared to share their details for marketing purposes.

The findings of the research have significant ramifications for brands and digital platform owners that rely on niche and mass marketing for their revenues.

The independent study conducted by Future Foundation and published by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) comprises findings of a survey of 1,020 UK adults. Titled Data privacy: What the consumer really thinks the report reveals that the public holds a finely nuanced range of perspectives and a sophisticated level of understanding of the commercial value of their personal information and how it is used by companies.

Four in five (80 per cent) people now accept that the disclosure of personal information is ‘a fact of modern life’. One in three (35 per cent) of people regard their personal information as a commodity to be traded with companies in exchange for free services or better benefits, rising to two in five 25-34-year olds.

Crucially, three in five (58 per cent) cited trust along as being the most important factor when deciding whether or not to share their information, compared to one in three (32 per cent) that said the offer of price discounts would be a sufficient incentive.

Control over the disclosure and use of information was rated as an important factor in building trust; 85 per cent said they would prefer to retain control of their information and exchange it for benefits or services when it suited them.

Chris Combemale, chief executive of the DMA, said companies that fail to grasp contemporary consumer attitudes towards data privacy will lose out to more data savvy competitors:

“Online platform owners and brands that market digitally must understand the current range of consumer views on data privacy. Insight into what they regard as private, what information they’re willing to exchange and under what circumstances should underpin their marketing strategies.

“The balance of power is now tilted towards consumers. They alone have the ability to choose who they share their information with, so it’s down to brands to give them a compelling reason to do so.

“This piece of DMA research highlights that unless brands are trusted, provide people with the opportunity to control how their data is used and suitably reward consumers for sharing it then they will be left behind in the digital economy.”

The DMA’s consumer data privacy survey has also revealed other depths to the complex attitudes people hold with regards to data privacy.

Consumer recognition of the ways in which companies can use personal data is high, with 85 per cent stating they were ‘aware or somewhat aware’ of the techniques used by companies to track online behaviour and preferences. Awareness of limiting use of personal data was also high, with 63 per cent claiming to have placed restrictions on who can access their Facebook page

The research highlights that greater online activity has shifted views on what people do and do not deem to be private. Two in three (63 per cent) cite familiarity with sharing information online and via social networking as reshaping their definition of privacy.

However, the proportion of the public that fall into the three broad classifications of those pragmatists happy to exchange their data under the right circumstances, those unconcerned about disclosing their data and the ‘fundamentalists’ that are resistant to exchange their details regardless of the benefits has remained static since the groups were first identified by researchers in 1997. More than one in two (53 per cent) of people are classed as data pragmatists, 16 per cent are unconcerned and 31 per cent are opposed to sharing their information except with companies they trust.

Data privacy: what the consumer really thinks can be downloaded from the DMA website.

Tristan Garrick, DMA PR manager
Tel 020 7291 3315

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